Posts

5 Camping Essentials

camping

The Scouts motto when I was growing up was Bí Ullaimh – Be Prepared. Family camping is something very different and not really about pushing the barriers to the extreme. More than anything it’s about the adventure outdoors together. And if you go to the places I’ve been camping, you realise just how beautiful this country is and the stunning landscape that sits right on our doorstep. Lough Ennell was and is a prime example of that.

The following for me, are five camping essentials that pretty much make life in the great outdoors just that little bit easier. They also didn’t really warrant an entire blog post to themselves.

I hope this list helps. You can also leave a comment below if you think I’ve missed out on anything.

1. The Sealey Booster Pack

sealey booster pack

You may be a little surprised to see a booster pack, capable of jump starting my jeep as my no.1 but their is serious logic in this.

Away for a bank holiday weekend lets say, the car sits stationary whilst acting as a power source for kids torches, or very simply the car is nowhere near your tent….

The Sealey booster pack comes with a cigarette lighter socket, which means it can recharge torches, lamps and as you can see here telephones. It weighs a bit, so it may not be one for the festival camper. I think I paid over 100 euro’s for this one. They can be got cheaper in some supermarkets, but do so at your own peril. I’ve already recycled one of lesser quality.

Buy in any good motor factors.

2. Thermos Lunch Bag

thermos lunch bag

The Thermos lunch bag is the absolute bees knees.

Whenever I go camping the food for the day is made in advance and usually a mixture of cold salads and what not from the garden. The trouble with Irish weather is that it may well be great sunshine starting out, as the food cooks slowly in the back of the car – but when you get there and it’s raining and the kids are staaaaaarving…. The front pocket fits the knife, fork and spoon set and the lining is leak proof.

3. Double Action Hand Pump

camping pump

Once again the no battery rule applies here and sure no-one likes them old foot pumps. But this baby is a real piece of basic principled essential camping kit.

For me it will do an air bed [which I personally dislike] in around 3/4 minutes. But the other side is it doubles up as a bellows, that assuming your place of camping allows barbeque’s or/ and fires. Outside of that, it comes with every connection possible so great for arm bands, or anything inflatable for that matter. It also does the reverse and deflates. Others seem to like the fact that I also use it to gently blows spiders out of the tent without hurting them.

4. First Aid Kit

first aid kit

Not the most exciting bit of camping gear I’ll admit….but definitely of the most important.

I think I paid around €30 for this first aid kit. The big tip on this is to overstock on the large plasters. More than not it has been used by others that camped near me too many times. And please for your own sake, make sure it is the last thing you put in the car, next to the food. Which means it is also first out.

5. Stanley Flask

stanley durable flask

I bought this pretty much unbreakable Stanley flask around 3 years ago. It cost a few bob [about €30] but a bit like my booster pack above – I prefer to but once and buy well.

It is the coffee on arrival after the tent has gone up, but far more important, flasks keep things warm as well as cold and as happened June bank holiday weekend just gone when temperatures hit 25 Celsius plus, it meant there was milk – that hadn’t been cooked – for breakfast the next morning.  This extremely durable beauty comes with a 15 year warranty for good reason.

———–

NB: I have always tried to buy as local as possible. In this, I found it difficult to make this list from Irish made. If you do know of any do let me know or/ and leave a comment below.

That aside, I like the slogan over this camping store.

outdoor trek camping shop

Your Great Outdoors

My week in the garden this week has been one of absolute smiles. The rain poured and the sun shined on me and my mind wondered when would the man, or woman, with the remote control make up their minds on which setting they wanted the weather to remain.

But all of this is good and to use the title of last weeks article, there is a balancing act in there somewhere. It maybe one were one gets slightly sun burnt and equally saturated potentially the very next day, but it does balance itself out. Last years extremes of course putting all of my just typed theories to absolute shame.

But within the space of just seven days my apple trees have all burst into flower. Also in there it seems one can include my cherry trees and my peach trees. The place is literally blossoming and blooming. All though there is no great skill to scattering some seeds on top of a window box filled with compost, you can also throw in there the fact that my lettuce seeds have just germinated. And the roller coaster doesn’t stop there as my strawberries are producing their fresh foliage, my onions and garlic sets are flying it. This just to name but a few…

From an ornamentals perspective my Crataegus or Hawthorn have also burst into leaf and with that bringing birds chirping some sweet soul music. It is quite simply so pretty and amazing.

I know some, as I have said so many times, over the course of the last years have followed the trends of the cobble, to decking and now to the growing your own. Within that genre, as most landscape gardeners will tell you came a double underlined requirement for low and zero maintenance gardens. Something that baffles me now mildly, especially when you realise some of those gardens have quite recently become host to a variance of intensively farmed allotments and raised beds.

Yesterday I picked some tulips  from my front garden and popped them very simply in an old glass to brighten up the kitchen. I realised that no matter what season, even though parts my garden may look at worst slightly shambolic, to my eyes anyway, I have got some form of flower or foliage to adorn the house and brighten my and the families day – or at the very least just my own. Equally, I also will always have some form of fruit, vegetables and herbs on the go, but from a pretty looking something point of view, there is always something, somewhere to grab a bunch of to scent and admire indoors. There comes with that a sense of achievement when someone calls around and to borrow the cliché, stops to smell the roses. That because I have grown them myself.

In here the point I make is that if you are about to get the garden made over, be it in phases or stages to suit financially or for family reasons, do take in and include the bigger picture. Sure there is the checklist of sheds, washing lines and so on that must and will be considered, but there is something about a house that feels like a home. This at least in my opinion comes from the individual, collective or singular. For me there is nothing more warming than being invited into a family home where the fridge hosts a myriad of children’s drawings and postcards, homework and painting, knitting or whatever sits half done on the kitchen table. On the walls may well hang some nice pieces of art and next to it a photograph collection that in monetary terms is worthless, yet it means so much to those who see them every day. It is what makes us different. It is what makes another’s home intriguing. I like intrigue and personally whilst I’d love to live in a show house, I’m also honest and logic enough with myself to realise it wouldn’t stay like that for very long.

Equally I’m also aware that my garden plays host to two dogs that will not walk the line I wish them to and this before I get to the humans who insist that the rotary washing line must go here. Instead I realise I must embrace the eclectic mix of wants and needs from the garden. And between my green waste heap and the pile of logs that is so great from a biodiversity perspective I’m now of the belief that unless I install a great big ark, one with two of each animal on it of course I have included just about everything I can think of.

Last week, two halves of a morris minor left my home. These the former remnants of an old show garden. The engine-less car of course replaced a dead tree which I had painted red. I simply loved its silhouette. The red dead tree as a by the way was requested by a client and happily given away. That of course was previously a space reserved for a satellite that I had turned into a bird bath.

These garden features as you can gather are all things that any or all of us can quite easily lay our hands on and adapt to suit, but yet they are not the usual.

Personally, I’m looking forward to a time when, maybe just maybe, all of our gardens maybe become reflections of the people we are and real extensions of our homes.  I think that would nice. I know it would make me smile. It is in short quite simply amazing how simply one can make their great outdoors greater.

Dublin’s Top 10 Parks

peter donegan, gardens

My top ten Irish parks and places list is based on a few things…. essentially it comes down to the entire experience and will not include any park where one is charged money to enter [that also includes hidden charges like parking etc]. That excludes more places than you realise… But, if you are looking to get out and about then I hope this maybe encourages you to do so without costing you a penny and gives you something a little bit different.

Coments can be left below. You can vote for your favourite park or click on the title of any of the parks listed to bring you to the post about that park.

Dublin’s Top 10 Parks

1. The War Memorial Park

If there is a park comparable to poetry…. This *is* it! The history, the story, the layout, in it’s entirety… I love it. Not as many know about it. Maybe because it’s only across the road from the ‘more popular’ Phoenix Park – but for me – this is the ultimate. A bit off the beaten track but it has everything a gardener and not could ever want.

2. Ardgillan Demesne

It is a park, a castle [but not a true castle…], a playground, a gardens… It is by far the finest example of a park I have seen in Ireland to date. If I could give this park a 6 out of 5 rating I would. Well done to the grounds staff – you really have taken how a park and gardens should be maintained to a new high. Based on Dublins northside, It stands out for very good reason.

3. Merrion Square Park

This is a really cool park. I love it. Right in the heart of Dublin City Centre. The art inside the park is brilliant; the buildings surrounding housed so many amazing Irish people. The sign on the gate is cool and the people are sooooo relaxed inside. It even has a playground. Go there, love it and enjoy it! Never overly crowded so you can really relax here.

4. Father Collins Park

To describe this park in a few words is impossible. To describe it on video would be unfair. This is without a doubt possibly the finest ‘new’ park I have ever seen in my life. Named after Father [Fr] Joseph Collins who was the hardest working and first parish priest of the Donaghmede area the 52 acre park took about 1.5 years to build. It is young. But it is pure genius at its absolute finest. Off the beaten track… but worth every minute you may spend getting lost.

5. The Garden Of Remembrance

It is quite simplistic in its lay-out and overall design. But I love the little snug part where one can sit in quiet and ponder. It is also the heart of Dublin City not far from O’connell Street and where a little tranquility is the order of the day…. this is a little gem.

6. Irelands Eye

Free in. No charge. That said you may need a boat to get there. But – The day out that I had there… is one that I will never forget. I even found it difficult to pick out just the one image for this post.

7. St Patricks Park

I love this park. I like the personal touch to it – the signs of which are, literally, everywhere. Of particular note *and something that makes the park so very beautiful are the little ode’s to those [possibly surpising] who knew the park so well. One of those is to Tom Keegan, a previous head gardener and he is just one of many. I like the layout. The park is well maintained. People in there seemed relaxed and the pace of life on entering somehow seems to slow motion slightly. Once again, a little off the beaten track but worth the walk.

8. Mountjoy Square Park

Mountjoy can boast being Dublin’s only true Georgian square, each of its sides being exactly 140 metres in length. While the North, East and West sides each have 18 houses, the South has 19, reflecting some variation in plot sizes. The park does need some extra added attention in no specific area and it seems, at this moment there’s a bit of everything there, which is good, but aesthetically it doesn’t do it justice. That said, I’d be quite proud to have this park on my doorstep. For the sole reason that its not overly complex… it makes my top 10

9. Loughshinny Beach

Well, it turns out one of North Dublins hidden gems may not be the worst day trip you ever took. And in this case it turns out there is a lot more than sand to see here. This place is literally brimmed with history and nature. For those not into the ye olde botanics of the great outdoors…. this is exactly what you are looking for. The beach may well be the meeting  point [so to speak] but there is so much more than that here. Something for all the family.

10. Dubh Linn Gardens

Nestled in behind Dublin Castle, just off Dame Street [palace st. to be exact] is one of the finest gardens I have ever entered in my life. You know when you just get that ‘feeling groovy’ kind of a nice feel….? That’s exactly what I got… the garden is serenity at its finest. Go there. Enjoy! Absolutely amazing. Talk about escapism right in the middle of the city, yet still not too many go here that often.

There are some parks you may expect to see here. Some may even surprise you that they are here. Not all that I have visited are reviewed on the blog – but nonetheless these are my Top 10 parks and places that you should visit and ones that I hope you enjoy should you choose to go there. I know I did.

Coments can be left below. You can vote for your favourite above or click on the title of any of the parks listed above to bring you to the post about that park.

donegan gardens

Bird Boxes

...

The bird box has always been something I’ve queried. I don’t know why. I just feel/ felt that they would always be better off making their own. Is that fair to say….? Either or, I wanted two in the garden just for the craic of it. You know, to see would they come.

These two bird boxes were made some weeks ago from an old timber wine box and given a lick of whatever colour was nearest/ lying around paint.

Fairly simple to make, they are also another variation of if I got these as a gift would I be impressed ? You better believe it. I’ve seen sites selling these for upwards of €30 each.

My Total Costs. €0.00

If you fancy having a go making them yourself… bear in mind, the bird really doesn’t care if you have not been meticulous in your efforts and from your aesthetic perspective, depending on your skills, a lick of paint will hide everything a lot.

The only things I really need to be careful of is that the box itself isn’t south facing. Logic applies here so you don’t cook the birds. Other than that its keep it about 2-3 metres off the ground and although there are site suggestions of when you should put them up…. I’m not going to pay any attention to that. If the winter guys wanna nest in them, it’s there for the taking. If not they’ll be there for the summer fella’s.

The only note I will make is not to tighten the screws too much so you can flip them over and tip out the previous years unwanted nest.

I could give instructions on how these were made, but the photos say it all pretty much.

More birds to help me eat my raspberries next year 😀

note: Highly recommendthe birdwatch Ireland fact sheet

Ladies View, Killarney

No this not a postcard. This is the view from what is known a Ladies View, In Killarney. It is one of the most amazing places I have ever been to in my life.

People say Ireland can be expensive – well this is as easy as a picnic, if you chose to do it that way and it is one of the few things in this country that the government cannot put a tax upon. Personally, I would [and will] sit looking at this for days.

I made it here because I took the road less travelled. I got lost, intentionally – and was so happy that I did. From Killarney town it took me approximately 4 hours in total to get to Macroom in Cork. To put in context it only took me about one hour on the way over 😉 The reason it took so long is that I stopped everywhere.

To be honest I found it hard trying to pick out just one photograph of my journey. I will go back. Sooner than I thought. When you do – don’t bring a sat nav. You’ll thanks me for it. I promise. Instead swap it for a poetry book.

View more images of Ladies View, Killarney

This was the journey from Conavee to Killarney…..

Enhanced by Zemanta